Giving up on never giving up
Loopy with tiredness, my five-year-old son insisted he could and would finish his homework. His assignment: to write numbers 1-100.
He’d been stopped up at 79 for several minutes.
“Count out loud, sweetie,” I told him.
“78, 79, 90,” he replied. He meant it, too.
“Try again,” I encouraged him. “Remember it’s 7, 8, 9, not 7, 9, 10.”
“78, 79 … 49?” he asked, flopping around beside me.
“Come on now!”
“78, 79, 81?”
“Okay, hon. We’re done for tonight. You’re too tired to focus on this tonight, but you’ll finish up in no time tomorrow morning.”
He was sobbing into the couch cushions before I could finish speaking.
“You’re making me give up!” he howled after the worst of his internal storm had passed.
I beckoned him into my lap. He climbed in and snuggled up against me.
“I’m not making you give up. I’m making you set it aside until you’re really ready to do it. That will save us both time and frustration.”
“But I want to finish now!” he cried.
I sighed. We have had this conversation several times since I gave up on never giving up.
“Please give it until morning. We can talk more about it then.”
With a good night’s rest to fuel him, he wrote the correct number seconds after sitting down today. He’d finished the assignment in less time than he spent floundering yesterday.
I wish I could make him see in a single conversation, single evening or even single year how much time and energy people waste insisting on persevering right now, no matter what.
I’ll have to be patient, though, given how deeply rooted is modern day faith in the merits of never, ever giving up.
I mean, it’s taken me 36 years to figure out it’s better to walk away … and, in some cases, never to return.
Eyes turned toward the bigger picture, not any individual task, see such things more clearly.
Today I hope my son learns sooner than I when to walk away.
I hope you, too, will take a moment to consider what you might feel freer for releasing.
‘Cause there’s a reason bigger than rhythm that Kenny Rogers didn’t sing:
You’ve got to know when to hold ’em
Know when to hold ’em harder
Know when to sit still
Know when to sit still more vigorously
Happy Friday, folks! May today move you one step–not seat, step–closer to knowng when to walk away and knowing when to run.